Dr. Eric Spina,
A recent quote you delivered in response to St. Patrick’s Day, left many alumni confused as to if you have disdain for the entire State of Ohio, The City of Dayton and the university over which you preside.
I don’t know what it is about Ohio, Dayton, and this university.
I don’t know of other places that have that kind of ‘tradition.’
Since you are seemingly unaware of what makes The University of Dayton, UD, and what people love about it, we have prepared the following…
As early as 1995, campus tours referred to The Ghetto as “The Student Neighborhood.” A polite way to describe the squalor that most Ghetto houses afforded. Pivoting away from saying “The Ghetto” didn’t stop UD from selling Ghetto merchandise in the bookstore and to this day hasn’t stopped students and 60+ years of alumni from lovingly referring to The Ghetto.
For decades, UD students and alumni have enjoyed themselves in The Ghetto and in doing so, forged the “community” which the school proudly markets as the overall identity of campus. UD isn’t wrong in doing so, because whether we lived in the decrepit fire-hazards of old, or the renovated and new Ghetto houses of today, UD students build lifelong friendships, the likes of which many college campuses don’t foster. The open-door, friendly nature of The Ghetto is the foundation for the community of UD. Freshmen and sophomores are welcome at all parties with the generations old understanding that when they are upperclassmen, they will host open parties as well. That is the kind of tradition, we love about UD.
The volume of second and third generation UD families speaks to the number of spouses who met on campus and spent countless nights together in The Ghetto. Every current and former UD student knows someone who comes from a UD Family. UD people continue to congregate in various cities around the country, and to some extent around the world. Whether it is to watch basketball games, gather for UD Parties, or come together at UD Weddings, we stick together. That is the community that UD has always fostered.
That may no longer be the case when current UD President, Eric Spina, was so shocked at the seemingly benign goings on this past St. Patrick’s Day, that he is unable to utter name of the holiday, and in its stead, will forever refer to St. Patrick’s Day as “March 17th.” Forget the long tradition of St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans or the ghost of Homecoming, we can only imagine how this administration would have reacted in 2014, when 30 years of basketball mediocrity, evaporated in scenes of absolute joy in The Ghetto. Those images were shared around the world, and while some outlets referred to the revelry as “rioting”, it wasn’t. Tears of joy were shed in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Miami, Phoenix, San Francisco, Denver, Las Vegas, and everywhere else UD alums are living. Innumerable text messages and social media posts were sent out and none contained even a hint of embarrassment or disappointment at the behavior of the students. The world was seeing us and it was amazing. That is the pride in our school that UD people share.
This past St Patrick’s Day, a similar albeit, much smaller number of similar messages went out and the consensus seemed to be “It’s great to see The Ghetto is alive and well,” at least until a party was being described as a riot. There were no videos of couches burning in the street, cars flipped over, streets completely covered in broken glass, fire hydrants being opened, or police officers being pelted with unopened beer cans. For 30 years, the University has cracked down on the outrageous behavior of the past. At the time, students were angry, alumni shook their heads, but everyone adapted; it’s why Alumni Weekend is so well attended.
Something seems different about this time around. Previous cancellations of St. Patrick’s Day and the coup de grace delivered to Homecoming were done in reaction to actual bad behavior. They were punishments handed down because students/alumni screwed up and while it was upsetting to not experience Homecoming again, we couldn’t blame the school for shutting it down, things clearly got out of control. That doesn’t appear to be the case with this year’s St. Patrick’s Day. All reports from local news, students and social media don’t paint a picture of a riot. The only thing exhibiting a riot were the scores of police offers outfitted in riot gear. That isn’t the UD that we know.
UD students and alumni love their school and it isn’t because of any rankings or prestige. It is because it is a unique place, with unique traditions. From packs of Freshmen wandering The Ghetto on their first night on campus to packs of Golden Flyers touring The Ghetto via golf cart; they feel a beautiful buzz that exists nowhere else. THAT is what The University of Dayton is about.